Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mandarin Chinese Workshop for Beginners & Intermediate Speakers

I think I've mentioned I'm broke before, right? That means I don't have a lot of money to spend on fancy lessons to maintain or improve the knowledge of Mandarin I gained after 2 semesters of classroom instruction at ACC. So what's a poor, waiting-to-start-law-school student to do? I decided to turn to to answer that question.

Aston International Academy has entrusted the flagship Mandarin program to the very capable Lia Yin. I did not attend the paid sessions of instruction, only the free workshop for beginner and intermediate students, so I cannot accurately comment on what the classroom experience entails. However, for Austin residents curious about learning Chinese, I can honestly recommend attending the beginners' section of the monthly workshop to get an introduction to Mandarin.

The Longwen Chinese Program ( describes a pedagogical philosophy committed to imparting practical knowledge in verbal communication. It emphasizes small class sizes, exchanges between teacher and students, and teaching culturally sensitive conversational skills.

The free workshops are divided into 2 skill levels: beginner and intermediate. The beginner level is just that, for beginners. I elected to participate at this level because (1) I hadn't spoken Chinese in several weeks and (2) I'm a coward. I wasn't the only one; several other people also had strong backgrounds in Mandarin, most stronger than mine. But don't worry that the beginner section is too advanced. The session emphasized initials and finals as well as the 4 tones. That basically means we spent the whole 2 hours practicing syllable pronunciation. While I didn't go into their room, the intermediate group did seem to focus on having basic conversations, meaning words and full sentences were exchanged.

Lia Yin, who directed the beginner session, and all the people at Aston International Academy were incredibly nice. They even provided free drinks and snacks. And as a meetup group, a diverse group of people showed up. Overall, it was a great experience. If you want to try Mandarin before you buy, give this chance. The next session is Friday, July 16 at 6 PM.

Monday, July 12, 2010


NOTE: A few words from an unfinished comment about Barbarella. Maybe I'll come back to say more because it's my favorite dance club in Austin (Elysium is a distant second). From the ashes of Austin's most infamous night club has arisen two new additions to the Red River / 6th street scene. Spiro's had the dubious distinction of the most police calls for any night spot in Austin but was shut down [insert details].

Barbarella, billing itself as Austin's premier video dance club, tries to invoke the campy 70s sexy sci-fi atmosphere of its Jane Fonda namesake with the light and video displays which distinguish the dance floor.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 10, 2010

World Cup Sucks

Perhaps you haven't heard, but Dutch porn star Bobbi Eden in an odd nationalist bid has offered all of her twitter (@BobbiEden) followers free blowjobs if her beloved Netherlands wins the World Cup tomorrow. This promise managed to penetrate the recent news cycle, even usurping air time from the LeBron James goes where non-story.

Bobbi's vow skyrocketed her to the most followed porn star on twitter, moving well past icon Jenna Jameson. But the world's largest suck off seems to be nothing more than a dirty publicity stunt. Bobbi Eden announced she has joined the Vicki Vette (@vickyvette) porn network today. Aiding Bobbi & Norwegian porn star Vicki in this football tomfoolery are @gabbyquinteros and @misshybrid. Together, they are trying to make #TeamBJ, what they are calling this shameless self promotion, a trending topic.

When did the global face of soccer change from hooligan to harlot? This year it started with the so-called "Paraguay Girl," Larissa Riquelme, also known as the "Cell Phone Boob Girl."

I have a sneaking suspicion that if the Netherlands wins, followers of #TeamBJ will have to fly to Holland and agree to be filmed receiving their "prize" as part of spectacle porn, a sub-genre which stages egregious sex acts, often in pursuit of "record breaking" proportions. The infamous Annabel Chong "World's Largest Gangbang" is the preeminent example of spectacle porn.

And yes, I did sign up to follow Bobbi Eden and Vicki Vette just to watch this bizarre sexing of sport unfold :)

UPDATE: Spain wins the World Cup so no porn star blowjobs for Bobbi Eden's 50k plus twitter followers. I'm a little disappointed not to see if my prediction played out but I guess that's what you get for betting against a psychic octopus. Bobbi & Vicki are promising to team up for some form of "thank you" to their twitter followers for the success of the promo.